Around the BCHL: Tough season for goalies and Prince George makes a move

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and the junior A world.

Welcome to the December 11, 2018 edition of Around the BCHL.

Powell River goaltender Mitch Adamyk is on quite a run.

The 20 year old Manitoban posted another shutout last Saturday, stopping 21 pucks in a 5-0 road win at Chilliwack.

Adamyk has posted four clean sheets in his last five outings, finding his form after an uneven start to the season. His overall numbers (2.72 goals-against average and .908 save percentage) aren’t dazzling, but his recent work is a big reason why Powell River is still within striking distance of Victoria in the Island division.

Good goaltending is hard to find this season.

You can almost hand the BCHL Top Goaltender Award to Grizzly goalie Kurtis Chapman right now. He is by far the league leader in save percentage with an absurd .944 mark. The next highest mark is Prince George’s Logan Neaton at .915.

Only six qualifying goaltenders have save percentages above .910 so far this season.

The statistical outlier for a bad reason is Wenatchee’s Austin Park, who has a .874 SP and 3.04 GAA. The Wild somehow make do year after year with shaky netminding, and they’re atop the Island division standings as of this morning. Last year, Wenatchee was able to pummel opponents into submission with an offensive attack led by Jasper Weatherby, AJ Vanderbeck and Cooper Zech.

This year’s attack isn’t quite as formidable, and may not be capable of compensating for goaltending mistakes.

It will be interesting to see if Wild head coach/general manager Bliss Littler addresses the position before the early-January trade deadline.

Back to the big picture look at goaltending.

Here are the top 10 in SP this year: Kurtis Chapman (.944), Logan Neaton (.915), Mathieu Caron (.914), John Hawthorne (.914), Jack LaFontaine (.912), Kolby Matthews (.910), Mitch Adamyk (.908), Connor Hopkins (.907), Braedon Fleming (.906) and Vincent Duplessis (.906).

Here are the top 10 in SP last year: Ty Taylor (.931), Austin Roden (.931), Kurtis Chapman (.930), Adam Scheel (.927), Evan DeBrouwer (.920), Anthony Yamnitsky (.919), Zachary Rose (.918), Taz Burman (.916), Brock Hamm (.911) and Mitch Adamyk (.910).

You can see there’s a significant difference in the digits.

As I noted last week, there hasn’t been a major uptick in scoring in the BCHL this season, so I’m struggling to explain the disparity.

Sounds like a deep-dive project coming up, but if anyone has any ideas I’m happy to hear them.

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The Prince George Spruce Kings have made a move, trading for forward Spencer DenBeste.

The 19 year old comes from the NAHL’s Springfield Junior Blues in return for future considerations. DenBeste posted four goals and eight points in 24 NAHL outings after putting up six goals and nine points in 27 games last year.

At six-foot-one and 180 pounds, he’ll make the Spruce Kings harder to play against.

“We are excited to add another veteran forward with a lot of character to our group,” said PG GM Mike Hawes in a team press release. “Spencer plays hard in both ends of the ice and will add more speed to our lineup. He’s also a great kid who’s personality will fit in well with the great group of kids we have.”

Here’s a vid of him scoring in a recent NAHL game vs Johnstown (around 1:02 mark).

What he probably won’t do is help address his new team’s biggest weakness.

The Spruce Kings are best in the league defensively, which is good because they’re exactly middle of the road offensively, ranking eighth in the 17 team BCHL with 103 goals for. It’s assumed that Hawes will try to bolster the attack to give his veteran-laden group as good as chance as possible in next spring’s playoffs.

Perhaps the DenBeste deal gives Hawes the flexibility to make another move before the trade deadline.

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Sticking with PG for a second, congrats to goalie Logan Neaton, who will be joining the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks in the not-too-distant future.

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Are the Vernon Vipers about to lose another player to the Western Hockey League?

The 17 year old has seen his WHL rights traded twice over the last week. The Seattle Thunderbirds dealt his rights to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who turned around and sent them to the Kelowna Rockets.

Swetlikoff happens to be a Kelowna kid and Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton had this to say in a team news release.

“We had an opportunity to pick up the rights to a quality player,” Hamilton said. “He’s a very talented player that would bring depth to our organization.”

Swetlikoff is currently in Bonnyville, Alberta representing Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge.

Were he to leave for the Rockets, he’d be the fourth Vernon Viper to leave the BCHL for major junior this season. Forward Josh Prokop was the first, leaving six games into the junior A campaign to join the Calgary Hitmen. Goaltender Max Palaga departed for the Everett Silvertips and forward Sebastian Streu left for the Regina Pats.

It’s not certain that Swetlikoff is gone, but it’s something to be concerned about if your a Viper fan.

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The Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm is getting an upgrade of some sort.

Video screen? New scoreboard?

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And finally, finishing with some video of teddy bear tosses from around the league last weekend.

Eric Welsh is the sports editor at the Chilliwack Progress and has been covering junior A hockey in B.C. and Alberta since 2003.

Email eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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